After tracking him for almost three weeks and over 4000 miles, we finally caught up with our elusive quarry just down the Pike, only 90-minutes from our home town. We couldn’t find him on our trip or turn the clock back to Newport 1963-65 (and we couldn’t even get into Newport 2012–sold out!), so we did the next best thing…we bought tickets to see Bob in concert on Sept. 7, at the beautiful Mountain Park venue near Holyoke, Massachusetts.
At the outset, we’ll confess to some trepidation, because, let’s face it, Dylan can be hit or miss in his performances these days. Here’s the big news: he did not disappoint. In fact, he was damn good. The playlist was memorable, with startling new versions of Blowin’ In The Wind, All Along The Watchtower and other classics, as well as offerings from his more recent work. It’s hard to believe that this 71-year old indomitable tour machine could remember all the words from Desolation Row, one of the most complex songs ever written, and do it in a new style yet. Dylan seemed to be dipping and slipping into every known musical tradition, from blues to reggae to rock to honky-tonk. The voice has grown gravelly. The piano has replaced the guitar. “At the request of the artist,” there were no large screens. But Dylan played for two hours straight out…no break…high energy all the way. We agreed that he seems to have found a new musical footing and a level of comfort with his evolving voice. No, this wasn’t the incandescent stuff from ‘62-‘66, but it was really good. Naturally, apart from band introductions, he had zero to say to his adoring fans, preferring to let his music do the talking. Well, that’s the Bob we know and love, is it not?
A half-continent and a month later, we knew, finally, we had our guy.